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New Michigan Tech Building Has Century of History

Thursday, August 27th, 2009

Michigan Tech is working this summer to convert the former UPPCO building on the waterfront in downtown Houghton into its new “Lakeshore Center.”

A mention of the new project was included in an August 26 article by Stacey Ashcraft inThe Daily Mining Gazette:

As the university expands, there has been a demand for more space, so, last year, Michigan Tech purchased the old UPPCO building.  The MTEC SmartZone received a $3.02 million federal Economic Development grant for renovations to the building. Gundlach Champion has been constructing the project. Now, the former UPPCO building, located on the Houghton Waterfront, has a new name – the Lakeshore Center.  “The project is in process and we’re hoping to be fairly well complete for people to move in late this fall, about Nov. 1,” [MTU Facilities head John] Rovano said. 

The Lakeshore Center will have three floors with three entities – the ground floor will house MTEC with a 20-year lease and the second floor will house Michigan Tech offices as well as Gundlach Champion, Rovano said. The third floor will house university administration, which is moving from Michigan Tech’s campus.  “There are also going to be a number of departments that will be moving, such as accounting and administration,” he said. “There will be a whole lot of moving.” 

What the story fails to mention, however, is the long history of this building on Houghton’s waterfront.  Driving by the building this week, the renovations have begun to expose some clues to the building’s origins.

warehouse1

One can clearly read the word “fruit” – revealing the building’s former use as a waterfront warehouse.

Sources in the Michigan Tech Archives vertical files indicate the building was constructed in the early 1900s as a warehouse storage facility for the Peninsula Wholesale Grocery. A Sanborn fire insurance map for 1908 shows the original building covering only a single waterfront city lot; by 1917 it had enlarged to cover the 4 city lots it currently occupies.

Although the exact date is unclear, the building changed owners and was used for many decades as storage warehouse for the Cohodas-Paoli Company which specialized in the wholesale market for fruits and vegetables. In 1991, the building was renovated by the Upper Peninsula Power Company for use as its office headquarters. Michigan Tech finalized its purchase of the building from UPPCO in February 2008.

A visit to the Keweenaw Digital Archives (http://digarch.lib.mtu.edu/) finds many interesting historical photographs of the building.

warehouse2

Although a bit overexposed, the above undated photograph looks from the Ripley hillside across Portage Lake toward downtown Houghton.  The Cahodas-Paoli warehouse is a white building just right of center on the shoreline. (image# MTU Neg 01282 online at http://digarch.lib.mtu.edu/showbib.aspx?bib_id=643954)

warehouse3

This photograph appeared in the Tuesday, July 22, 1958, issue of The Daily Mining Gazette.  The caption indicates that Cohodas-Paoli also owned the dock frontage near the building:  “On Sunday the largest consignment of diesel or fuel oil ever to be loaded on a craft at the Cohodas-Paoli dock was paced aboard the Corps of Engineers sand sucker Hains. Slightly more than 20,000 gallons were pumped into the reservoir tank of the ship from three trucks and trailers with carrying tanks on each. The oil came from Gladstone in Detroit tank trucks. The sand barge has departed for dredging work near Bay City. It had been working for the past week at Lily Pond.”   (image #MS051-016-001-006 online at http://digarch.lib.mtu.edu/showbib.aspx?bib_id=634850)

warehouse4

The photograph shown above appeared in the February 28, 1972, edition of The Daily Mining Gazette with the caption:  ”An enclosed three flight stairway, which was built in the 1940′s on the Cohodas-Paoli produce building in Houghton, is being dismantled by Mattila Contracting to make way for a new front on the building. The stairway was erected for the purpose of providing a separate entrance to the third floor of the building where at that time was located a dressmakers shop to employ women of the area during the World War II years. It was used as a branch of Ely Walker, clothing manufacturer, but was only in existence for a few years.”  (image #MS051-037-001-004 online at http://digarch.lib.mtu.edu/showbib.aspx?bib_id=665407)

Some of the best photos, however, aren’t just about the warehouse building, but are those that catch it as a background element.

warehouse5

1972 and the Library Restaurant.  (image #:MS051-038-001-002 online at http://digarch.lib.mtu.edu/showbib.aspx?bib_id=664611#)

warehouse6

Unknown date (maybe the 1950s?) with two Coast Guard sailors in front of the Gazette Building on Isle Royale Street.  The Cohodas-Paoli warehouse is in the background. (image #MS044-005-077 online at http://digarch.lib.mtu.edu/showbib.aspx?bib_id=625735)

It’s great that Michigan Tech is giving this building new life as the Lakeshore Center – and also lots of fun to celebrate its 100+ year history in photographs as one of the many landmarks on Houghton’s waterfront.

Take some time to locate other photographs of this building in the Keweenaw Digital Archives at http://digarch.lib.mtu.edu/

Digital Archives “Add Your Comment” Feature

Thursday, June 11th, 2009

One of the innovative features of the Keweenaw Digital Archives site allows visitors to add information they know about photographs in our collections.  When you visit the site (http://digarch.lib.mtu.edu/) and conduct a search, the record for each image includes an area just below the photograph where you are invited to “Add Your Comments and Share Your Thoughts.”

This is an important role you can play in our work.  Very few of the historical photographs and negatives we receive as donations come with any descriptive information. And it isn’t feasible for our staff to undertake research to create descriptions about each and every image in the collection (we already have more than 7,000 images in the digital archives site).

Your comments help subsequent researchers to find and evaluate photographs in the collection. And don’t worry whether you have a PhD in history — we’re looking for any information that can be helpful in understanding the content of an image.  We do ask, however, that you include your name by either including it in the comment box or by creating and logging into an account that includes your name. 

Here are a couple of recent examples in which visitors have left interesting and helpful comments.

ms003-009-013-13

The photograph above is image #MS003-009-013-13 from Our Calumet & Hecla Photograph Collection (you can view the record by clicking this link: http://digarch.lib.mtu.edu/showbib.aspx?bib_id=655295).

Notes on the original print indicated that it was the assembly room and study hall at Calumet High School, but George Mackey added the following details: “This photo is taken from the senior side of the assembly. The assembly room was organized with the freshman on the left side when facing the stage and then the sophmores, juniors and seniors as one moves to the right.”

ms042-064-z-616b

The photograph above is image #MS042-064-Z-616B from the Reeder Photographic Collection. (you can view the record by clicking this link: http://digarch.lib.mtu.edu/showbib.aspx?bib_id=597077).

Notes from Reeder’s personal photograph log indicated that this was a parade in the Houghton/Hancock area.  A comment from Nicholas Faller added some valuable information: “Based on the movie poster , I believe this is the June 6,1919 parade in downtown Houghton . The Movie ” When Girl Loves ” was shown on June 6 & 7, 1919.”

mtu-neg-03461

 

The photograph above is image #MTU Neg 03461, taken by Russell M. Magnahi on October 9, 1985 (you can view the record by clicking this link: http://digarch.lib.mtu.edu/showbib.aspx?bib_id=627147).

Magnahi was interested in the history of Italians in the Upper Peninsula and took the photograph as the building was once a store owned by the Campioni family.  A comment from Jan Campioni added more detail: “This was the original Campioni’s Market in West Hancock. It was established by Guido and Mabel Campioni in the late 1920′s. It was later run by Joseph and Margaret Campioni until their deaths. It was later run by their son Bill and then after his death by his sister Mary Anne Crooks. She sold it to the Keweenaw Co-op.”

We invite you to become “part of history” by browsing the thousands of images in the Keweenaw Digital Archives and sharing your thoughts, comments, memories, and other information.

Visit the Keweenaw Digital Archives at this address: http://digarch.lib.mtu.edu/

Michigan Technological University is an equal opportunity educational institution/equal opportunity employer

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